Can You Say No?

The real superpower of success is the ability to say, “No.”

There. Cat’s out of the bag. (No need to read further unless you’re looking for some examples.)

Expended effort often gets the limelight.

What’s expended effort?

You know, when people say, “They’re so successful because they put in the hours. They were out there practicing, learning, training. They really put in the time and that’s why they’re ahead.”

While it’s true you do usually have to expend some effort to be the best, that’s not where the seed of success is planted. No no. It starts much earlier.

Do not look to the noisy rainstorms of expended effort to sprout your seed of greatness. But rather it’s the slow silent snowmelt of saying no that encourages it to take root.

To say “yes” to your piece of success means to say “no” to all the others.

To the all-star college athlete, it’s first saying no to hanging out with friends or weekend parties that gives them the time for training. But it’s also saying no to all the other sports they could be playing.

To the science fair winner, it’s first saying no to movies and games that lets them study hard. But it’s also saying no to the other avenues of academics.

And yet often, once we’re out of school and entering “normal” life, we start saying yes to this, and yes to that. We treat ourselves with a yes here and there.

And before we know it, we’re busier than ever adults expending enormous effort with a poor pittance to show for it all.

Has the yes monster gobbled up the tender green shoots of your success?

Do you have the hardy character needed to say no?

I assure you if saying no were easy everyone would do it.

But something tells me you’re not known for doing things the “easy” way.

I see the roots of your success and my friend, they’re ready to sprout.

– Zac Smith, VC 

P.S. Next week we’ll talk about specific examples of how saying “no” in business can get you ahead.